History | Medieval Heroes
B204 | 2967 | Shopkow
Above section qualifies for COAS topics credit
(Formerly offered as E104)
Well, heroes are fun, aren’t they? But a society’s heroes can tell
you a lot about that society. (Can you imagine Rambo or Forrest Gump
being heroes in any society but modern America?)So heroes are a great
way to learn about past societies. This course is an introduction to
the history of the Middle Ages in western Europe through its heroes.
What made people heroes in the Middle Ages? Who can be a hero? Who
can become a heroine? How did changes in medieval society create
changes in people's thinking about heroes? And how do modern people
see these medieval heroes?
I've chosen a mix of figures to represent the three periods of the
Middle Ages: the early Middle Ages (c. 300-c. 1000), the high Middle
Ages (c. 1000-c. 1300), and the later Middle Ages (c. 1300-c. 1500).
There are all kinds of heroes: saints, outlaws, kings and legends.
We'll look at what was going on when their stories were written and
why they became significant heroes.
There will be a textbook, Barbara Rosenwein’s Short History of the
Middle Ages, and primary source readings to be announced later.
Students will write a series of assignments in and out of class, as
one of the skills we will work on in this course is writing. Students
will also participate in discussion sections, so they will develop
the ability to speak and reason effectively aloud. A third skill,
essential for historical study, is the ability to read and interpret
primary sources. We’ll work on this skill throughout the semester as
This course fulfills the topics and the S & H requirements.